The essay is for exploring; the book, for explaining. Such was McLuhan's philosophy about these two forms. The essay is the freer form and one better suited to exploration than the longer meditation, the book. Traditionally, when a writer published a new piece, the publisher would send a couple of copies of the magazine plus ten or a dozen copies of just the article with the mag's cover offprints to be given to friends, students, colleagues.This startling new series puts the reader in the place of colleague and co-researcher. Instead of giving the reader just another collection of articles and interviews, McLuhan Unbound gives you offprints of the original essays. You experience the feel of the ideas when they were fresh.
The offprint is more portable than the book, and so lends itself to being carried around and read and discussed more easily than books. Here the reader can experience the full range of McLuhan's interests, the full scope and application of his techniques of discovery. See how the two McLuhans, the literary academic and the public media expert are really one.
As a flint when struck produces many sparks some of which result in fire, so the essay form contains many sparks some of which resulted in books and others which ought to have, had the writer had time. Some of these articles were written before the subsequent book was envisioned: they are preliminary forays into new territory. Some were written after the book and encapsulate major themes; some set out additional discoveries or matters left out of the book; some present material discovered as a result of writing the book. The McLuhan Unbound offprints series is not the last word in presenting McLuhan's ideasand discoveries, but the first.